Carol Platt Liebau: July 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

It's Not the Lefties' 1980

EJ Dionne compares the primary fight facing Joe Lieberman to the purge of liberals from the Republican Party back around 1980.

There's an important difference that Dionne ignores, however, when he writes:

But Lieberman's troubles are, even more, about a new aggressiveness in the Democratic Party called forth by disgust with the Bush presidency -- an energy comparable to the vigor that a loathing for liberalism brought to the Republican right in the 1970s and '80s.

Get it? The parallelism isn't quite right. Republicans reacted to "liberalism" . . . Democrats are reacting to the "Bush presidency" -- which is a polite way of saying to the President.

That's the difference. Republicans in 1980 were reacting to an ideology -- liberalism -- and seeking to replace it with conservatism. Democrats today aren't reacting to an ideology; they're motivated almost completely by personal hatred of George W. Bush, and offering precious little by way of policy alternatives.

That's why, although Bush hatred may yield short-term political dividends for lefties, what's happening now can't really be compared to what happened at the dawn of the Reagan Revolution.

A Leader of One

Here, CNN calls Chuck Hagel a "leading" U.S. senator. Yes, he's a leader . . . of an army of one. CNN's honorific, of course, is only to try to dramatize the fact that, once again, Hagel is taking the president to task in an effort to draw attention to himself.

If he really thinks he's going to have a snowball's chance of winning a Republican presidential nomination, he's been drinking something stronger than Mel Gibson has.

A Very "Defensible" War

Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby discusses the conflicts raging in the Middle East, and then concludes by arguing, "Wars are only defensible if they can be won." The statement is both remarkable and unfortunate -- on two counts.

First, the practical. Is Mr. Mallaby really suggesting that Israel couldn't destroy Hezbollah -- or that America couldn't quash the terrorist insurgents in Iraq -- that is, if they decided to fight full throttle?

As Shelby Steele convincingly argued in The Wall Street Journal, for some time, the US has fought "minimalist wars," based on "white guilt" (internalized stigma occasioned by some historical elements of racism and imperialism). Actually, question really isn't whether the war can be won, it's whether countries like Israel and the United States can look past the lack of cultural self-confidence and the myopia afflicting Europe, and decide the struggle is important enough to take the measures so that the war will be won.

Liberals have long been some of the most determined purveyors of the "white guilt" that has led to minimalist warfare. It's unfortunate that someone whose ideological brethren have done so much to tie America's hands then uses its weakness as an excuse for surrender; the title of the piece -- "The Wisdom of Retreat" -- really says it all.

Second, the principled. Contrary to Mallaby's claim, it's not actually true that wars are only defensible if they can be won. Had the North not won the Civil War, or the United States the struggle for independence, the loss of life would have been even more tragic, but the struggle to free America's slaves or secure its independence would have been no less noble or defensible. Conversely, having won the war wouldn't have made it any more defensible that Hitler chose to fight one.

Ultimately, a war isn't "justified" by its outcome, but by its purpose.

An Acquired Taste

Mary Katherine Ham spent a week listening to Radio America, and offers some salient observations.

Radio America is something of an acquired taste. At first, it's somewhat shocking to realize that there are people out there who actually buy into a lot of what's spewed on the network. But after a while, listening becomes entertaining and inspiriting, especially for a conservative. That's because everyone on Air America always sounds so unhappy about everything -- notably absent are the happy warriors like Rush Limbaugh or Hugh Hewitt.

Eventually, one starts to feel very confident about the prospect of ultimate conservative political victory, because Americans are, by and large, an optimistic people -- and they don't resonate with the kind of downbeat snideness and discontent that occupies a lot of Radio America's airtime.

Firm Israeli Backbone

There will be no ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanon.

Good for the Israelis. They didn't start the war . . . but they should get to finish it.

Asymmetric Warfare

The loss of innocent human life is always a tragedy, but as Ben Stein points out, civilized societies will always lose if they loudly proclaim and practice complete restraint in dealing with terrorists who are willing to hide among civilians. It's asymmetric warfare and it's unwinnable.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Nothing to See Here"

The MSM campaign to paint the Jewish Federation shooter (who killed one and wounded two) as nothing more than another mentally disturbed assailant continues. Even so,

Haq, a U.S.-born Muslim, told authorities he was angered by the war in Iraq and U.S. military cooperation with Israel. According to a statement of probable cause, Haq told a 911 dispatcher: "These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East."

That's right . . . nothing more than just garden variety mental illness. No doubt if he hadn't been obsessing about Jews, he would have been fixated on Martians. Right.

Suspending Air Strikes

So Israel has agreed to suspend air strikes on Lebanon for 48 hours, in response to the United Nations and the United States.

It seems that's the price that civilized nations are called upon to pay. Can anyone imagine Hezbollah acceding to the will of either the UN or the US if it had the power to press its attack?

What's worth noting is that, as the incomparable Jack Kelly points out, the fight between Hezbollah and Israel is well-nigh impossible to settle with negotiations as things now stand -- as he puts it, Hezbollah wants to destroy Israel, and Israel doesn't want to be destroyed.

Insofar as it encompasses two parties who have views that differ absolutely, it's a little like the abortion debate in the United States. Either abortion is murder, or it isn't; either Israel has a right to exist, or it doesn't. Not a whole lot of room to split the difference and reconcile diverging views. Luckily, neither side of the abortion debate will resort to armed conflict, of course -- but if they did, think how difficult it would be to broker a "compromise" that would be universally acceptable. Same goes here.

The only way irreconcilable differences are resolved is through defeat after a battle -- whether military or, for the lucky ones like us, political.

The Qana Bombing

The loss of innocent life is always a tragedy. But why the condemnation of Israel -- which hit a city known to be a terrorist stronghold, after beseeching civilians to leave -- for taking human life accidentally, but no stern words for Hezbollah, which kills innocents as a matter of practice?

Indisputable evidence shows that Hezbollah has no regard even for Lebanese civilians, and is, in fact, hiding among them.

What's more, there are discrepancies that may indicate that the explosition in Qana wasn't as a result of Israeli bombing.

Update: This piece offers more insights about why the building in Qana might have collapsed, hours after it was bombed.

A Call for Outreach

This week, somewhat amusingly, after cataloging several pitiful and inaccurate efforts by liberals allegedly to "reach out" to conservatives -- by casting Calista Flockhart as a "thoughtful" (gasp!) conservative pundit and writing biographies of "neoconservative" William F. Buckley -- Chait condemns conservatives for not attempting similar outreach:

You don't hear conservatives mourning their lack of common ground with the English department at Columbia University. In fact, it's incredibly rare to find a conservative who understands liberalism as anything other than hatred for the rich and a desire to hand over our foreign policy to the United Nations.

Winning, apparently, gives conservatives the luxury of not having to care what the other side thinks.

Typically, Chait totally misunderstands the issue on almost every point. First, liberals aren't reaching out to conservatives through the goodness of their little left-of-center hearts. They're doing it because it makes good business sense. Finally, finally liberals are figuring out that there are just a whole lot of conservatives in America, and that they watch television and read books, too! There's money to be made in reaching out to an underserved segment, and whatever their pretensions to redistributionist economics, it's pretty clear that liberals like to make money as much as conservatives do.

Second, how and where exactly are conservatives supposed to reach out to liberals to show that they "care what the other side thinks"? Liberals have dominated the culture so long that it's not clear how Chait thinks the outreach should be effected: Maybe insisting that all the conservative, pro-life, religious Hollywood denizens introduce more left-wing themes into television and movie programming? Making room in all the hegemonic conservative Ivy League universities for just a few liberal professors?

As the mistakes Chait himself points out demonstrate, blue state liberals have no clue about conservatives -- what they think, how they define themselves, who they are. But because the liberals have dominated national culture so overwhelmingly, it's pretty clear that red state conservatives understand exactly who liberals are and what they think.

I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that if conservatives were putting together a program about a liberal pundit, they'd be able to do it without so many beginner's mistakes.

No Standing to Criticize

In a stunning displays of irony, hypocrisy and all-around incoherence, Teddy Kennedy takes to the pages of The Washington Post to complain that he and other Democrats were "misled" by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito during Judiciary Committee hearings. He bases this on the fact that he disagrees with the results the justices have reached on some cases close to his heart.

First, it's laughable that Kennedy would claim to have been misled. He opposed both nominees from beginning to end, putting no stock in anything either of them said. As this piece points out, he opposed the Chief Justice's nomination to the D.C. Circuit and to the Supreme Court (both in Committee and on the floor); he likewise opposed the Alito Supreme Court nomination in both venues, and even threatened a filibuster of it. So he can claim that his opposition has been justified by Roberts' and Alito's jurisprudence, but to claim that he was "misled" is disingenuous, at best.

Even more significantly, it's hypocritical for Teddy Kennedy -- more than for any other American -- to object to Judiciary Committee hearings that fail fully to illuminate a judicial nominee's views. That's because he's the one who, through his over-the-top treatment of Robert Bork -- and the campaign he led to defeat him -- is responsible for the devolution of Supreme Court hearings.

After the smear job Kennedy engineered on Bork, Republican nominees learned they couldn't expect fair treatment from the left and adopted a strategy of saying as little as possible, lest it be twisted, purveyed and ultimately used against them in a misleading campaign. Indeed, Democratic nominees, particularly Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have been something less than totally forthcoming -- but in contrast to Republican nominees, she and Stephen Breyer were treated courteously by Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee.

Teddy Kennedy may not (does not!) agree with Chief Justice Roberts' and Justice Alito's philosophy. He (and we) have known that from the beginning. But to the extent that he's trying to argue that the process itself failed in fully revealing and explaining the nominees' views, he's got only himself to thank. Of any American, he, absolutely, is the last with any standing to criticize what Supreme Court hearings have become.

WMD in Syria?

A translated memo from a member of the Iraq opposition in Syria suggests that in July of 2003, Iraqi WMD were transported to Syria.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Over the (Left) Edge

The New York Times throws in its lot with the lefty loony netroots and endorses Ned Lamont.

To read the Times' editorial, it's clear that the rub against Joe Lieberman is that he hasn't opposed President Bush vocally or often enough to suit those at a newspaper, who, apparently, pride themselves on publishing classified national security information that will help terrorists.

The depths of the paper's radicalism -- or its dishonesty -- becomes breathtakingly clear in its final paragraph, when it refers to Ned Lamont as "moderate." But then again, as Tom Maguire has pointed out at Just One Minute, it seems that the Times has been in the tank for Lamont for quite some time. There's been speculation that perhaps the paper simply wants the drama of a three-way Senate race, but the anti-Lieberman vituperation in the Lamont endorsement also suggests that the ed board feels a real ideological kinship with Lieberman's lefty opponent.

In any case, given what The Times has become, Joe Lieberman should wear its disdain as a badge of honor.

Just a Hate Crime?

As Hugh Hewitt points out, the Seattle Times hastens to inform one and all that the man who shot two at the Jewish Federation yesterday -- after yelling that he hated Israel -- was "mentally ill." And by implication, therefore, not a terrorist.

Blogger The American Muslim seizes on the MSM coverage to take the argument one step further:

It is still unclear why Naveed Haq did what he did. So far, however, none of the news reports I have read indicate that he did this out of religious conviction. You would be right in calling it an act of terrorism, but not the sort of terrorism of Al Qaeda, but rather the terrorism of Benjamin Smith, the Midwest man who went on a tirade in 1999, killing Jews, Blacks, and Asians. It was a hate crime committed against Jewish Americans, similar to the many hate crimes committed against Muslim Americans, especially after September 11.

Ignoring the fact that there, in fact, weren't "many hate crimes" committed against Muslims in the wake of 9/11, it's not clear, in this context at least, that there's a meaningful distinction to be made between a "hate crime" and terrorism. Both are directed at innocent civilians without warning; perhaps the only difference is that the former term is more often used to describe an individual act of animus, while the latter refers to an often (but not always) organized effort to instill fear for some religious/political end.

We don't know the full story of Naveed Haq, the shooter. So we don't really know whether Haq is a terrorist, or merely one who happens to be Muslim, randomly engaging in a crime against Jews. But in the middle of a war that's pitted Islamofascists against the state of Israel (because of the Jewish faith of its inhabitants), it's slicing the bologna pretty thin to argue that a man who shoots two, on the cusp of the Sabbath, in the Jewish Federation building, after screaming out his hatred for Israel is nothing more than a mentally ill bigot who (like Benjamin Smith) was equally likely to go after Asians or African Americans.

After all, couldn't one argue that every suicide bomber in Israel has done nothing more than engage in a "hate crime"? Or that it takes a certain kind of "mental illness" deliberately to place one's own children in danger for the anti-Israeli cause?

Certainly, Haq is entitled to the presumption of innocence as a legal matter. But it's far from clear that he deserves the benefit of the doubt either from fellow Muslims or from the MSM that's proved itself profoundly unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt to American soldiers.

Opportunism Watch

Noted here, Peter Beinart has courageously exposed Democrats' lack of principle when it comes to national security issues, when they perceive they can score some political advantage.

The newest example: As Robert Novak reports, Nancy Pelosi wasn't willing to sign on to a resolution supporting Israel -- but was more than happy to attack Iraq's democratically-elected prime minster for his purported non-support for Israel.

Run, Al, Run

No, not Gore -- Franken. CNN's crawl featured a note that the thin-skinned Air America host is considering a run against Norm Coleman in 2008.

Please, please, please run. And while you're at it, convince Jerry Springer to give it a go in Ohio . . .

A Rational Refusal

So Iran is refusing to accede to UN demands that it stop enriching uranium by August 31 or else face the threat of international sanctions.

The refusal is regrettable, but entirely rational. Is there anyone who really thinks that the UN -- with China and Russia always available to block stringent measures -- actually has either the power or the will to inflict any meaningful penalties?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Getting Down to Business

It sounds like the Justice Department may be investigating the illegal leaking of classified information. Good.

Kudos to Beinart

For having the integrity to point out that Democrats' "work" on national security is restricted to pandering.

Shootings in Seattle

Two people were shot at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Yoni reports that the perpetrator was Pakistani.

"Porn Radio"

Has the culture really come to this? A Fresno radio station has taken to calling itself "porn radio" -- and plays songs with overtly suggestive titles, adding moans, groans and other sound effects to tamer songs. It suggests that those under 21 not listen.

What a wholesome use of the public airwaves.

Sending the Wrong Signal

So Israel has decided not to advance any farther into Lebanon.

It's understandable that Ehud Ohlmert wants to avoid a bloody guerrilla war on the ground in Lebanon. But we can all only hope that the Israelis understand that any opportunity to cripple Hezbollah shouldn't be surrendered lightly. In this conflict, they're a proxy for the entire West -- and the Islamofascists will interpret any reluctance to take the fight to the enemy as confirmation of its conviction that the civilized world lacks the intestinal fortitude to fight.

The Israelis needn't send in lots of ground troops. Instead, it should simply drop leaflets warning civilians to evacuate, and then carpet bomb all the places twenty miles within Lebanon from which rockets have been launched.

Funny, Sad and True

The always-entertaining-and-insightful Charlotte Hays attended the NOW conference last weekend, and this piece in today's Journal is the result.

It takes an incredibly talented writer to season a report of all the NOW silliness with a real point -- just making fun of the organization is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. But Charlotte Hays observed a certain tiredness as NOW plods on toward its 40th birthday.

Maybe the organization is just a victim of its own success; after all, many of the real or imagined grievances that motivated its establishment have been redressed, for better or worse. Like so many groups that flourished during the heyday of late 60's/early 70's radicalism, NOW is grasping for relevance.

And perhaps worst of all for NOW's ultimate future, the young women any organization needs to remain fresh and forward-looking have come to realize that most of the claims and the promises the feminists offered were empty at best, and more often, destructive of women's happiness.

Hezbollah's Media "Magic"

A reporter has detailed at least one way that Hezbollah stages media events to create the impression that the number of civilian casualties being inflicted by the Israelis is larger than it actually is.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shame on Kofi

Looks like Kofi Annan's accusations that Israel targeted UN workers may be undermined by the facts.

So is Howard Dean ready to call Kofi an anti-Semite?

Still Unconvinced?

Al Qaeda's second in command restates his goal of seeing the terrorist brand of Islamofascism established everywhere from "Spain to Iraq."

Anyone -- even the cut-and-runners -- still doubting that we're fighting the forces of Islamofascist terrorism in Iraq? Please accord these people the minimal respect of accepting the fact that they're saying what they mean.


Where will it end? It's not enough that some Democrats actually wanted to deny the democratically-elected prime minister of Iraq the opportunity to address the U.S. Congress.

Now, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean has called Prime Minister al-Maliki an anti-Semite. It's a real shift for the party of Bill Clinton, who courted Yasser Arafat (a real anti-Semite) so assiduously for eight years -- for nothing.

Democrats hate President Bush. That's their prerogative. But even people who hate the President should be hoping that the U.S. will succeed in Iraq, for the Iraqis' sake and for ours. Name-calling and personal attacks on its leader are counterproductive to what should be the bipartisan goal of establishing a stable, democratic Iraq; it only highlights the lack of commitment on the part of Dean and his ilk to actually ensuring that the job gets done.

As Dan Senor points out, there are some delicate internal strategic reasons that prevent the prime minister from coming out with a full throated endorsement of Israel -- even if he wanted to. Howard Dean and the Democrats may not be aware of them. But what's even worse is that they may well be aware of them . . . and simply not care.

Would Dean toss around such language about any other country's leader? Given that he's a nut, maybe so. But his attitude is revealing of a certain dismissive contempt toward the Iraq leadership that others on his side seem to manifest, as well. The other day, on the Imus show, Chris Matthews was complaining about al-Maliki, and made some reference to the point that "we put him there" (that is, in power). These people seem to think that the Iraq leaders are somehow our vassals, whom we can treat as we please.

They're not. They're leaders of a sovereign country and entitled to our respect -- and our admiration for their courage. What's more, the United States didn't "put"
al-Maliki anywhere . . . the Iraq people did. We just helped to create the necessary antecedents for their doing so.

"Cheap Date"

John McWhorter attempts to explain to his fellow African Americans how monolithically supporting Democrats has undermined their political power as a group.

What's more, he even has the nerve to point out that some blacks in America might be better advised to pay more attention to policy and less to rhetoric:

In 2006, the "racist" Republicans are the party behind programs saving children from failing schools, assisting religious organizations (e.g. black churches) in turning around their neighborhoods (e.g. black inner cities), and maintaining welfare programs as focused on job training. . . .

Under Mr. Clinton, there was, we recall, the Conversation on Race. This would appear to have led to precisely nothing, especially given the conviction so regularly expressed by black commentators today that there still needs to be some kind of "conversation" on race in America.

It's worth pointing out that as long as Democrats remain the party of big government and the self-identified party of the "oppressed," they'll have an interest to make sure they have client-constituents. That should make anyone who's truly trying to shake the mantle of oppression nervous.

In the end, it all comes down to one simple question: What best represents real "compassion" -- merely empathizing with people, or actually trying to help them make a better life?

Confirm the Judges

Robert Novak points out Republicans' sorry efforts when it comes to judicial nominees.

Sounds like there's plenty of blame to go around.

And it also seems particularly politically dumb, given reports like these (here and here) of pretty significant Republican disaffection in the run up to the November elections.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What Some Dems Didn't Want To Hear

Here are some excerpts from the speech by Iraq's Prime Minister that some Democrats wanted to cancel. Indeed, as predicted, he began by thanking the American people -- thanks that must have turned to ash in the mouths of those who have sought to cut and run:

Let me begin by thanking the American people, through you, on behalf of the Iraqi people, for supporting our people and ousting dictatorship. Iraq will not forget those who stood with her and who continues to stand with her in times of need.

Thank you for your continued resolve in helping us fight the terrorists plaguing Iraq, which is a struggle to defend our nation's democracy and our people who aspire to liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. All of those are not Western values; they are universal values for humanity.

One supposes that it's not entirely surprising that he's better able to frame the larger meaning of what's happening in his country better than the people who wanted to deny him the podium in the House of Representatives. Later in the speech, he notes:

And wherever humankind suffers a loss at the hands of terrorists, it is a loss of all of humanity.

It is your duty and our duty to defeat this terror. Iraq is the front line in this struggle, and history will prove that the sacrifices of Iraqis for freedom will not be in vain. Iraqis are your allies in the war on terror.

History will record their bravery and humanity.

The fate of our country and yours is tied. Should democracy be allowed to fail in Iraq and terror permitted to triumph, then the war on terror will never be won elsewhere.

One can only hope that assurance will silent the spurious Democratic "doubts" about where Iraq stands when it comes to the U.S. and the war on terror -- and help them understand what's at stake in the struggle for a secure Iraq. Finally:

Iraq is free, and the terrorists cannot stand this.

They hope to undermine our democratically elected government through the random killing of civilians. They want to destroy Iraq's future by assassinating our leading scientific, political and community leaders. Above all, they wish to spread fear.

Do not think that this is an Iraqi problem. This terrorist front is a threat to every free country in the world and their citizens. What is at stake is nothing less than our freedom and liberty.

Confronting and dealing with this challenge is the responsibility of every liberal democracy that values its freedom. Iraq is the battle that will determine the war. If, in continued partnership, we have the strength of mind and commitment to defeat the terrorists and their ideology in Iraq, they will never be able to recover.

In other words, Prime Minister Maliki explained, so simply that even John Murtha should be able to understand it, why America must continue in Iraq until the job is done, and why gthe war in Iraq is, indeed, the central front in the war on terror.

Whatever one's views on Iraq, it should be an inspiring and joyful moment to see the democratically elected prime minister of a free Iraq address the representatives of the people who made that freedom possible. No doubt the left will be full of sour grapes; even so, it was a wonderful, heartening affirmation that America is doing what it should do -- and what it must do -- in Iraq.

Once More, With Feeling

How many more of these stories are we going to have to hear?

Drum roll: The Democrats are meeting to hammer out a plan. We've been there with national security. Now, it seems that the Dems are going domestic.

But it's tiresome to hear the press report breathlessly that the Democrats are going to get together to decide what to say (and probably what to think) about the domestic issues of the day. Does a party that needs to meet in order to figure out what it thinks have any business leading?

Once More, With Feeling

How many more of these stories are we going to have to hear?

Drum roll: The Democrats are meeting to hammer out a plan. We've been there with national security. Now, it seems that the Dems are going domestic.

But it's tiresome to hear the press report breathlessly that the Democrats are going to get together to decide what to say (and probably what to think) about the domestic issues of the day. Does a party that needs to meet in order to figure out what it thinks have any business leading?

War of Words

The incomparable James Taranto amplifies on the point I made here, yesterday, about the Democrats' strong opposition to Iraq's prime minister, even as they tolerate (even celebrate) predictable opponents of US foreign policy like Kofi Annan.

Read Taranto here.

It seems that a war of words is the only kind the Democrats know how to fight.

The "Iniquity" of Michael Steele

This piece by Howard Kurtz discusses the unveiling of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele as the source of some very critical remarks about Republicans and the Bush Administration.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm always uncomfortable with this sort of behind-the-back distancing, but sometimes it's necessary. If ever a candidate would need to do it, it's a black Republican running in a blue state. Anyone who thinks that Steele didn't "intend" to be "caught" is crazy. There are a million other ways to convince reporters that one is what they'd consider a "reasonable" Republican without getting caught (for one thing, speaking with each of them privately would be a start).

Instead, Steele gets what he wants: A discussion of his "true" views about the Administration (which can only help him in Maryland), without looking as though he was willing to flip the bird to his party in the plain light of day (which would have alienated all 100 Republicans currently living in Maryland).

What's particularly noteworthy is Kurtz's comparison:

The only other public figure who looked as bad yesterday was former Democratic congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar. Now head of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, she refused at least five times to say on the "O'Reilly Factor" whether she thinks Hezbollah is a terrorist group.

Come on. Does Howard Kurtz really intend to say that refusing to acknowledge that a terrorist group is a terrorist group -- and an enemy of America -- is on par with a Senate candidate engaging in what's become a relatively routine political ploy of "distancing" oneself from a controversial figure or party? Surely Al Gore, Tim Kaine and John Kerry -- all of whom have "distanced" themselves from someone or something in the recent past -- would disagree.

Racism in the Air?

A black celebrity -- being considered as a Star Jones replacement on "The View" -- claims that she was mistreated on a United flight because of racism. These situations are always difficult to sort out, because there are three possible alternatives: (1) Racism was indeed a factor; (2) the celebrity misbehaved in a way that would have caused a problem, whatever her race; (3) the flight attendants were jerks, and would have mistreated a white celebrity in the same way.

One of the difficulties of being rich (so I've been told) is that it's almost impossible to know who your real friends are. One of the great difficulties in being part of a minority group is never knowing whether you're being mistreated because of your race.

But it's worth pointing out that the oppression of idiot flight attendants isn't exclusively visited on African Americans. A couple years ago, when Winston was traveling with me (completely in accordance with all regulations), an insane, dog-hating stewardess refused to even allow his head out of his Sherpa bag so he could get air (he's never allowed to set foot out in any case, given the dirty conditions of most planes). Winston's manners are impeccable; the stewardess' were anything but.

When I objected politely to her attitude and her behavior and asked for another flight attendant, she tried to get me to sign a statement, binding under federal law, that I had "disrupted the flight" (right -- like that was going to happen). Finally, after some time, another flight attendant intervened and apologized on behalf of the airline.

Had I been black, I might have suspected racism. But as it turns out, it was simply that the stewardess was nuts -- or, as the letter of apology I later received from the airline delicately put it, "in need of a long vacation."

It's the Sanctimony

Real Clear Politics' Tom Bevan writes about the McCain dichotomy -- so good on some issues (spending, foreign policy), so out of touch on others (campaign finance reform, immigration).

Funny -- Rudy Giuliani likewise has enormous disagreements with conservative Republicans on issues ranging from abortion to guns to gay rights, yet he doesn't elicit the same degree of irritation from many Republicans. Certainly, he's not as constantly in the public eye as McCain, but there's more to it.

With John McCain, one occasionally sniffs the fetid odor of sanctimony -- he believes what he does because he's just a better person. Better than the free-spending Republicans, better than the weak-kneed Democrats, and certainly better than all the "special interests" who have the temerity to want to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Giuliani is far from perfect -- but at least you get the sense that he realizes it. With McCain, you're not so sure.

Defending a Monopoly

Apparently, The New York Times was only too happy to publish data purporting to show that public school kids did better on tests than those educated in private schools.

As Jon Stossel points out, too bad researchers had to torture the data to get the politically correct result they wanted.

Democrat Priorities

According to this piece, speaking of the midterm elections, Nancy Pelosi has said:

"When you think of women and defense and security, think of a lioness. You come anywhere near our cubs, you're dead."


"You cannot go head to head with the president until you take him down. Take him down, make him pay, and then we can have a conversation."

Tough talk. Wouldn't it be refreshing to have some of it deployed toward America's terrorist enemies, rather than Republicans? The remark about President Bush is tougher than anything we've heard coming from Pelosi about Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein -- or Kim Jung Il, for that matter.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another Paper Tiger

Kofi Annan doesn't have the guts to stand up to terrorists across the world, but no one's a tougher talker than he when it comes time to confront a democracy that he knows won't come after him. Annan is typical of the UN in his reflexive anti-Israeli impulses, which have extended to accusing the Israelis of intentionally hitting a UN position in Lebanon.

The Israelis deny hitting the UN observers on purpose, and so far, there doesn't appear to be any reason not to believe them.

It's worth wondering: Where are Annan's similar sentiments of outrage when Islamofascists target people every day who are just as innocent as the UN observers whose right to security he defends so stridently?

Paper Tigers

Democrats may lack the stomach to stand up to Hussein or Ahmadinejad -- but they sure are tough enough to take potshots at Iraq's new prime minister the day before he's set to address a joint session of Congress.

No doubt they're worried that the prime minister will thank America -- and help the American people understand just how much we've accomplished in Iraq. And no doubt he was wrong to voice any equivocation about Hezbollah (although, again, we don't know what kind of internal or security pressures prompted him to do so).

What they don't seem to understand is that when America set out to create a democratic Iraq, we planned to gain an ally . . . not a lapdog. Sometimes there will be disagreements, or political exigencies will force Iraq's leaders to make a remark or two with which we, in America, disagree.

But given that Democrats have set the precedent of demanding that speakers to a joint session of Congress must toe the Administration foreign policy line, it'll be interesting to see if they raise the same high-minded objections when, say, Kofi Annan or some other figure more to their liking ever tries to take the podium.

It's pretty disgraceful that they'd try to score a cheap shot or two off the consensus prime minister chosen after lengthy negotiations by the Iraqi people, at this vulnerable stage in Iraq's democracy. But did you really expect anythign better?

The UN: Already Part of the Problem

In today's Chicago Tribune, Alan Dershowitz writes:

This is a real test for the UN. If it cannot--or will not--distinguish between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that seeks to stop the terrorism while minimizing civilian casualties, it has become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

He's writing in terms of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, but the fact is that the UN has already become part of the problem in the larger fight against Islamofascism.

It was the UN dithering that allowed Saddam Hussein to delude himself that he could go on keeping (or pretending to keep) stocks of WMD while shooting at American planes without expecting any retribution. It is the UN that refuses to stand behind its own words of condemnation when it comes to the North Koreans and Iranians developing nuclear weapons. Wars spring from such misunderstandings.

Ultimately, if as Dershowitz points out, Kofi Annan can't grasp the moral distinction between Israel and Hezbollah, why should we assume that he can understand the difference between a country like the United States and a country like Iran possessing nuclear weapons?

Abortion International?

Amnesty International is seeking to expand its mandate to include supporting access to abortion.

No doubt all the China women subjected to their country's horrifying regime of forced abortion will be enthusiastic about Amnesty's new direction.

Hezbollah's Handy Tours

Here is a piece noting that, when CNN's Nic Robertson has been on Hezbollah tours in Lebanon, he has reported Hezbollah's assertions about civilian targetting without making it clear that he has had no way to verify Hezbollah's claims -- or even noting that all the reporting is being done under Hezbollah control.

In the wake of admissions from other CNN personnel about reporting on Saddam's atrocities, this is unfortunate -- especially for the honorable and hard-working journalists and leaders who have been part of the network over its history.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Neverending Story

It looks like there are some real, and very good reasons that boys are less engaged in school and academic pursuits than they used to be.

Even so, it isn't enough for feminists llike Barbara Ehrenreich to rejoice in girls' burgeoning successes -- because, in their minds, the fairer sex (how they'd take umbrage at that term!) will always be oppressed by big bad men. In lamenting what she sees as the newest manifestation of sexism, Ehrenreich -- who would no doubt be one of the first to caterwaul about insulting stereotypes and characterizations of women -- can't wait to do the same thing to men, thereby proving conclusively that the impulse to demean the opposite sex is hardly gender based.

Democratic Party Problem

As Soxblog's Dean Barnett points out, many of the Democratic politicians so eagerly courting Israel are, at the same time, embracing the Daily Kos netroots -- where support for Israel isn't quite so robust . . . to put it mildly.

Wonder when all the Jewish Democrats are going to notice the phenomenon. As Dennis Prager notes here, the Israeli-Lebanon conflict has he effect of separating the merely foolish lefties from the pernicious ones.

Teachers' Union Irony

Phyllis Schlafly points out that while public school teachers call for every conceivable type of diversity among teachers themselves (and were even considering an official endorsement of same sex marriage), they are considerably less "open-minded" when it comes to tolerating a diversity of educational choices for the children they claim to care about so much. As Mrs. Schlafly points out, they've passed resolutions against "voucher plans, tuition tax credits, parental option or choice plans, sectarian schools, for-profit schools, distance learning, and home schooling."

America's Heritage of Faith

In this magnificent piece, Michael Medved points out the relative novelty of the idea that, in America, religious devotion and national pride are insuperably divided. As evidence, he points out the religious themes evident in all America's most beloved patriotic songs.

It's always been somewhat amazing that those who are so eager to junk America's religious heritage tend to be liberals. That's because our religious heritage has provided the rationale for and the backbone behind so many of the policies that the liberals would (wrongly) love to claim for their own: Abolition, civil rights, care for the poor, unprecedented generosity to suffering and oppressed peoples across the globe. Without the Judeo-Christian ethic that underlies America's founding and sense of mission, why, precisely, should any of us care for anyone besides ourselves? Because Jesse Jackson tells us to? Yeah, that'll work.

It's also worth pointing out that America has a beautiful national hymn -- "God of Our Fathers" (it's always played at presidential inaugurals). My favorite verse has always been the second:

Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

A "Negative" Tone

That's how the tone of Condoleezza Rice's meetingin Lebanon was described.

And why shouldn't there be a negative tone? As Secretary Rice pointed out, until the Israeli soldiers are returned and Hezbollah lays down its arms, there's really nothing to talk about. And even then, there's always the concern that Hezbollah's retreat is nothing but a strategy to buy more time.

How Much Does It Cost to Make You Look Good?

Federal Election Commission reports can reveal some tasty little tidbits like those set forth here: Hillary Clinton spends $1600 and $1000 for haircuts, and $1600 and $1300 for makeup application.

It's hard for Hillary to argue that she's the voice of "ordinary people" when she's racking up bills like this, subsidized by her contributors' money. Seems that she's willing to be a little more openhanded with other people's money than with her own (remember those $2.00 deductions for used underwear she took back in the Arkansas days?).

Which is why all of us should be worried if she gets her hands on the federal budget . . .

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Not So Happy In Harlem?

Is this true -- that African Americans are protesting and blaming Bill Clinton, the "first black president," for having gentrified Harlem to the point where some now can't afford to live there?

And if it is true, why are we reading about it only in a British newspaper?

Fox News Channel's "Wishing Well"

Here is an amusing little story about Fox News Channel's penchant, when provoked, for sassy little quotes that somehow conclude with wishing someone well.

The AP reporter tries to make the phrase sound tantamount to the Godfather's kiss to Fredo; in actuality, it simply accompanies entertainingly tart observations about those who have attacked FNC.

Fox's lack of pomposity is one of the reasons so many viewers love it -- along with its "fair and balanced" news coverage, of course.

Blaming the Victim

The New York Times takes after Elizabeth Dole with glee, charging that she simply isn't getting the job done as the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

That's a lot of hooey. The problem isn't Elizabeth Dole (or the subtext that "women can't raise money" when it comes to politics). The problem is that many Republicans are somewhat disgruntled with the Republican Senate apparatus as a whole: Arlen Specter's grandstanding about the NSA wiretapes; Chuck Hagel's grandstanding about everything; Lincoln Chafee's willingness to suck up Republican money in a primary with a better opponent, despite his hostility to all Republican positions in the ordinary course of things; the spending; the Judiciary Committee's foot-dragging on judicial nominations -- the list goes on and on.

Doesn't mean loyal Republicans aren't supporting the party -- or that they don't intend to. They are and they do. Republican politicians are incredibly lucky, in fact, that their Democratic opponents are so utterly unacceptable when it comes to the war on terror.

But in an era when one can simply go on the internet and contribute online to candidates of one's choice, there's simply no need to help subsidize guys like Lincoln Chafee in this cycle (and Chuck Hagel in subsequent ones).

That's not Elizabeth Dole's fault. That's just the fact.

What the NAACP Should Have Heard II

I pointed out on Thursdaythat President Bush's speech to the NAACP left something to be desired.

Gateway Pundit lays out chapter and verse some of the stats that the President should have used. (HT: The Anchoress.)

What's Happening & What To Do

Robert Tracinsksi makes a prime point about the "proxy war" that's going on in the Middle East:

If the problem is that the Syrian and Iranian regimes seek to preserve themselves and extend their influence by supporting terrorists across the Middle East, then the solution is to end those regimes--and we should devise a military response directed at that goal.

Syria and Iran cannot be pressured, deterred, or contained, because supporting terrorists is their means of survival.

Given all of this, it's particularly worrisome that -- as the Claremont Institute's brilliant Brian Kennedy points out -- the Bush Administration, like others before it, are taking a leisurely approach to developing the missile defenses that could make all the difference in an era when powers like Iran and North Korea are developing nuclear weapons, effectively undeterred.

Exploding the 'Chickenhawk' Slur

Jeff Jacoby does a superb job in explaining why those who scream "chickenhawk" at those who support the war (but have never served) deserve to be ignored.

The argument has always struck me as silly in the extreme, since the ones most likely to use it are those who have traditionally expressed less, rather than more, faith in the military, its efficacy, and its attitudes. What's more, by the reasoning of the "chickenhawk" argument, only women could have an opinion on abortion, only schoolchildren (maybe parents) could opine on education policy, and welfare recipients (and those not paying taxes) could have no voice on how tax money is spent.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Un-Seriousness of the Left

A piece like this has no business making the pages of a major metropolitan newspaper.

Robert Kuttner is, admittedly, a well known lefty. But his piece highlights nothing but the left's complete lack of seriousness when it comes to the war on terror generally. It's nothing but a bunch of recriminations -- based not on facts, but on falsehoods masquerading as accusations.

Just a couple of samples: " In Iraq, where Saddam turned out to be telling the truth about nuclear weapons and Bush turned out to be lying, diplomacy was forsaken for war." - So somehow, Bush uniquely was supposed to know the condition of Saddam's WMD programs even though Saddam had ignored 14 UN mandates and refused to open his country for inspections; what's more, Bush was "lying" (intentionally telling untruths) when, like almost all Democrats and every intelligence service across the world, he charged that Saddam had WMD.

"Bush insisted that we go it alone. Now, having rejected diplomacy . . . " - When, exactly, did the Bush Administration 'reject diplomacy'? Does anyone else remember those eternal UN debates? President Bush didn't "insist" on anything except that Saddam not be allowed to defy the UN with impunity; France and Russia were the ones who "insisted" on doing nothing in Iraq (as it turns out, because they were getting bribes and kickbacks).

Kuttner winds it up with this howler:

Had Bush used diplomacy to isolate Saddam and to improve relations with Iran and Syria, had he worked as Bill Clinton did for a reduction of violence and a true peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, radical Islam would have far less appeal, the United States would have more influence in the world, and Israel would be more secure.

All the efforts to "isolate" Saddam were doomed to failure, because Saddam was bribing some of those who were supposed to enforce them. Anyone with the sense God gave a goat understand that, like North Korea, the terrorists and radical Islamofascists in Iran and Syria aren't going to negotiate in good faith -- and all our concessions provide is more time for them to pursue nefarious ends at our expense. As for the Israeli piece process, Bill Clinton worked his whole term in office courting Yasser Arafat, just so that Arafat could reject 99% of what he'd asked for when Ehud Barack offered it. Some "true" peace process. Oh, yes, and eight months after he left office, 9/11 happened.

If only we could return to those good old days. Right.

Sadly, that's all the left has to offer. It's impossible even to have a reasoned debate with people who buttress their arguments with falsehoods -- and are determined to ignore grim but unavoidable facts, even as they do nothing but point fingers and voice recriminations.

Another Armchair Quarterback

This piece argues, in effct, that the US chose the wrong counry to fight, in confronting Iraq rather than Iran.

Ah, how convenient memories are. First, Iran and Iraq are both bad -- but as the author concedes, Iraq was the "low-hanging fruit" when it came to the axis of evil. Second and most importantly, Iraq was the country that had defied countless UN mandates. So if -- as all the resident "wise men" like this author declared at the time -- it was essential to have the UN's approval and support, it was most likely to be obtained for a country with terrorist ties that had, in fact, ignored UN mandates.

As it turned out, even that wasn't enough. So someone please explain how the US would have gained the UN okay for going after Iran. And explain why, if the US had done that, someone else wouldn't be asking why we didn't go after the dictator with ties to Al Qaeda, who was shooting at US overflights, subsidized suicide bombers, and was ignoring a host of UN mandates.

Faith and Science

The scientist who directed the international genome project asserts the compatibility of religious belief and science.

Central to his conversion to faith was C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Pepsi's Not-So-Wholesome Ad

Setting a less than wholesome example for all the little girls out there who admire her (what a surprise!), Christina Aguilera has embarked on a new Pepsi campaign that, not surprisingly, involves the donning of minimal clothing coupled with seductive dancing.

A Wake-Up Call for American Jews

As Hugh Hewitt points out, five of the eight Democratic congressmen who voted yesterday against supporting Israel aren't mere backbenchers -- they're ranking members of important committees, who would become committee chairmen if, in fact, the Democrats retook the House this November.

Isn't it time for the majority of American Jews -- who are Democrats -- to rethink their longtime allegiance to the Democratic Party?

Katie Couric: Surprisingly Sensible

It's almost impossible for any conservative to be a fan of Katie Couric -- the oh-so-perky committed liberal slated to anchor the "CBS Evening News."

But she did show herself at least to be a person of good sense in her recent comments about whether she'd journey to the Middle East to don a flak jacket and cover the burgeoning war. "I think the situation there is so dangerous, and as a single parent with two children, that's something I won't be doing," Couric said.

No doubt the same feminists who nipped at the heels of Elizabeth Vargas when she stepped down as ABC anchor will bay at the moon once more. After all, women must feel no special obligation either to bear or raise children in order to be truly "liberated."

But the fact is that Couric is exactly right. Her husband is dead, and if she's killed covering the war for CBS, her children will be orphans -- and no responsible parent could ever deliberately court that risk.

In an era when, frankly, any number of correspondents can report from a war zone as ably as an anchorman him (or her) self -- and the audience knows it -- it's a bit silly anyway to cherish the notion that the news is somehow more authentic or genuine simply because one television reporter is covering it, rather than another.

And like it or not, the feminists are going to have to come to grips with the fact that Couric wasn't chosen to anchor the CBS news because she's a heck of a war reporter. It's because she's a celebrity, with enormous appeal to women -- appeal that won't be diminished one bit because she understands the special responsibility that comes with being a mother.

Pull Up a Chair, Pop Up the Corn

This piece reminds us that the Democratic Leadership Council and the lefty netroots remain at loggerheads.

Beneficiaries of the fight? Republicans. Those most hurt? If you need a hint, just remember that Hillary Clinton tried to broker a detente against the two factions. After all, it's hard to win without a united party behind you -- and even harder if the two factions are expressing active antipathy for each other, and condemning any candidate who tries to reach out to both.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What the NAACP Should Have Heard

So President Bush addressed the NAACP earlier today. Here is the text of his remarks.

As most readers of this blog know, I am a firm fan of the President's. But this speech left something to be desired. A lot of its substance consisted of little more than a catalog of everything Big Government has done on George Bush's watch.

One can't help be reminded of President Reagan -- who always refused to define compassion in terms of how willing the government is to spend its citizens' money. What I would rather have heard from President Bush is the following:

-- How many more African Americans own their own businesses since he came into office?

-- How many more African Americans are now in college because of new opportunities enabled by even limited school choice?

-- How many more African Americans are benefiting from programs that have been part of the faith-based initiative?

If the answers to these questions aren't good, the NAACP members deserve to know -- and so do all Americans. But it sends the wrong message (and is, in fact, plain wrong) for the President to succumb to the liberal vision of what constitutes "good government" rather than seizing the opportunity to define, defend and explain one that is more consistent with conservative ideals.

"World Trade Center" A Keeper

In the "Life's Little Surprises" category, staunch conservative Cal Thomas loves -- I mean LOVES -- Oliver Stone's movie "World Trade Center," coming out August 9.

The Diabolical Duo

So apparently Iranians were on hand to witness the launch of the North Korean missiles.

Only lends credence to the emerging theory that we are, indeed, embarking on something that could turn into a worldwide conflict -- unless we can shut Iran and North Korea down now.

All About the Book

Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson may, indeed, be dumb or delusional -- but simple greed also may explain why they'd file a lawsuit that's so patently lacking in merit. According to Byron York, it's all about the book deal.

Going For Bolton

Like a dithering debutante, George Voinovich has finally decided that he can support John Bolton's renomination to the UN.

Of course, if he'd simply had the good judgment to reach this conclusion last year, we all could have been spared lots of drama and lots of tears.

Supporting Israel

So the House will be joining the Senate in strongly voicing support for Israel.

Well, the author of this AP piece, a work of thinly disguised opinion journalism, isn't pleased -- in her view, Congress is in a "rush" to embrace Israel, "steamrolling" those who don't agree.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Warning Sign for McCain

A recent Gallup poll, reported on here, has some rather disturbing news for Senator McCain.

Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain typically vie for the lead in Republican preference polls, but a greater percentage of Republicans say they would find Giuliani acceptable than say this about McCain (73% to 55%).

Given that by almost any measure (abortion, gun rights, gay marriage) John McCain is far more conservative than Rudy Giuliani, this figure would suggest that voters are objecting to something personally about John McCain. And that's got to be troubling, because when voters object to a politician's positions, he may be able to "tweak" them (as we may yet see Giuliani do). But if they object to someone personally, that's a lot more difficult to fix.

Note that other potential Republican nominees likewise have even higher "unacceptable" rates, but as the article points out, this is because people don't know them (except, sadly, for Newt Gingrich, a brilliant guy who was raked over the coals by the press during his time in power). But everybody knows Giuliani and McCain.

Turning the Corner?

Youssef Ibrahim argues that Iran may have overplayed its hand in trying to spark a Middle Eastern war. Could it be that Arab states are beginning to recognize the pernicious Islamofascism of which Iran is a leading proponent?

The Coarsening Culture

This is a sad little reminder of how coarse US culture has become -- and the kind of abuse heaped on those who dare to object to it.

Apparently, film critic Joel Siegel spoke out and then left a critic's screening of "Clerks II," forty minutes into the film. Siegel's abrupt departure was occasioned by a scene in which, as the linked article puts it, the clerks "graphically discuss hiring a woman to perform sexual favors on a donkey." (emphasis added).

Good for Siegel. Not too surprisingly, he's come under attack from the film's creator -- and the mentality behind this fine cinematic fare is evident from his vulgar, expletive-laced tirade.

This is the kind of person who's being paid to entertain America's teens -- and what a perspective on sex, relationships and women he's offering! What's even worse is that all the other film critics were willing to sit still to watch and listen to this garbage -- all the while knowing that it was going to be marketed to young people all across the United States.


A Solid Strategic Vision

Here's Newt Gingrich's plan for addressing the crisis in the Middle East:

The key steps to ending the violence in Lebanon first requires recognizing that Hezbollah in its military form must be eliminated, that the 100-plus Iranian guard in southern Lebanon must be removed and that the allowing of the Syrian and Iranian dictatorships to supply, train and equip the terrorists must be stopped.

To do that, the United States should offer to help strengthen the Lebanese government so that it has the ability to re-establish itself in all of Lebanon and defeat the military wing of Hezbollah. We should encourage the Israelis to work with the Lebanese government to eliminate the thousands of missiles within its borders that threaten Israel. Finally, Iran and Syria must be forced to cease their support of Hezbollah and Hamas by the United States communicating to them such dire consequences that they could not sustain the relationships. And then we should be prepared, if necessary, to impose those consequences.

Sounds good to me. It's worth noting, of course, that the weak-kneed in America and elsewhere will never be prepared to support the President in imposing the consequences.

When Funding's Not Enough

Want to read something that dramatizes every reason that the "welfare state" is a failure? Here goes, from the Seattle Times:

A lack of funding to educate the public has limited the effectiveness of a four-year-old law created to protect newborns from abandonment, a nonprofit group said after a teenage mother allegedly left her newborn near a drainage pond in Marysville late Saturday.

Get it? Because if the mother had known she could drop her baby off, she would never, ever have decided simply to leave it to die.

Please. Even a "teenage mother" shouldn't have to be told that it's easy to drop off her baby, just to prevent her from killing it. You don't need to know there's a program in order to leave your baby somewhere where it will have a chance of being found and therefore living, rather than being abandoned near a drainage pond. And hasn't anyone ever heard of "adoption"?

All the funding in the world won't fix the heart of someone willing to leave her own child to die.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another Thought Experiment

For those who doubt that the MSM loves "maverick" Republicans, but hasn't much use for "renegade" Democrats, here's another thought experiment, based on some judicious alterations to lefty blogger Duncan Black's denunciation of Joe Lieberman in today's LA Times (words in brackets have been changed):

Imagine the following emanating from a right-winger:

For too long [John McCain] has defined his image by distancing himself from other [Republicans], cozying up to [left]-wing media figures and, at key moments, directing his criticisms at members of his own party instead of at the [Democrats] in [the Senate].

And then:

[McCain] has a long history of providing cover for the worst of [Democratic] actions while enthusiastically serving as his own party's scold.

Now imagine . . . if it were John McCain's political career that was placed in jeopardy by a more doctrinaire conservative -- rather than Joe Lieberman being threatened by a more leftist Democrat -- don't you think we'd be hearing a few more gasps of horror from the MSM at the ugliness of the political cannibalism?

Then again, we wouldn't even be seeing a right wing equivalent of Duncan Black being given space on the Times' op/ed page to press the anti-McCain attack.

Iran's Hezbollah: Tipping Its Hand

So Iran's Hezbollah has threatens to attack American and Israeli interests, warning, "If America wants to ignite World War Three ... we welcome it."

How revealing. Seems that Newt Gingrich isn't alone in understanding what the stakes are -- and the fact that, like it or not, the bad guys are viewing everything that's happened as part of a global struggle, ultimately being waged against the United States.

Posters' Blogs

Nothing better than being able to read commenters' blogs. If you post on this site, feel free to email me with the URL for your blogs ( and I will happily provide a link to all of you!

A Baby's Best Friend

According to this story, a Philadelphia area dog, Alfie, protected the baby in his family when the little guy climbed up on the roof and started running around. According to the linked report,

Witnesses say it appeared Alfie was running along the outside edge of the roof in an attempt to protect the toddler from falling.

Winston applauds.

On Stem Cells

The stem cell debate is gearing up. The House has already passed a bill that would allocate more federal funds for stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human embryos.

Proponents cite the potential health benefits that could result from the research; the President, however, intends to veto it because "The bill would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos."

A couple of things are worth pointing out here. First, some proponents of federal funding try to give the impression that research going forward is dependent on federal government funding. That's just not true. There's no law against embryonic stem cell research being conducted by Harvard University, for example, or the state of California, or any number of other entities. So it's not a matter of whether the research can be done; it's a matter of whether it should be done with taxpayer money. (In that respect, it's a little like religious practice -- you can do it, just not with government money.)

Second, before proponents of the research manage to raise expectations sky-high over the potential for stem cell research, it's worth noting that research using "fetal tissue" hasn't yet lived up to the hype of its proponents (indeed, in some cases, it's had an adverse impact).

Third, there are ethical alternatives to destroying human embryos. As this piece points out, federally funded research continues on stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood and from adults' tissues -- and there's a second Senate bill that would fund research on ways to obtain the equivalent of embryonic stem cells without killing human embryos.

Finally, do not doubt that those little human embryos are human life. They are precisely what is implanted in women at fertility clinics after a round of IVF so that they may have a baby. The women are told, immediately after the embryos are implanted, that they are pregnant (either until they deliver, or until the embryo fails to implant and dies). Contrary to what an ill-informed talk show host said on the radio this morning, there's all the difference in the world between an embryo on the one hand and male sperm on the other -- an embryo represents the union of an egg and a sperm that, together, have fertilized to produce the beginning of human life.

Playing the Blame Game

As this Washington Times editorial points out, Democrats are offering little in the present Middle East crisis besides a lot of finger-pointing (how unusual - they're trying to exploit a crisis for political gain!).

In fact, on the radio, one can ever hear leftists charging that none of this would have happened if we hadn't gone into Iraq. And the Bush Administration should understand that this meme will grow and spread like a nasty virus unless it does more to make the release of pre-war documents a priority.

The Administration may believe that how we got to war is "water under the bridge" for most Americans -- but that's a fundamental miscalculation. Finis origene pendet (the end depends on the beginning) applies here. If the American people understand that, in truth, Iraq was not a war of choice, they'll see it through 'til the end. If, instead, they're led to believe that it was just a matter of misunderstandings -- however inadvertant or well-intentioned -- it's a much different story. And it becomes easier to see the crises as part of a pattern of mistakes, rather than -- as I believe they are -- a series of "tests" of the West by countries like Iran (whose client, Hezbollah, started bombing just as the UN was about to get around to dealing with its nukes) and North Korea . . . bad actors (like Iraq was) who are, in fact, doing what we've accused them of doing.

Jackson vs. Obama

There's no God-gap that's worth worrying about, whatever Barack Obama says. That, at least, is the implicit message of this ridiculous column by Jesse Jackson.

Instead, Republicans lost in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 because "the fix was in." Really. That's what Jackson says. And rather than reaching out to people of faith, those people instead should be made to realize that the Democrats are, in fact, doing a godly thing when it has the government takes money from one segment of society to give it to another. That's all there is to it.

How amazing (and pathetic) it is to hear such rhetoric from someone who is, at least nominally, a minister. Not only is it evident that Jesse Jackson is entirely out of new ideas -- the column also makes it crystal clear that his jealously and resentment of Barack Obama is such that he, as a clergyman, is willing to argue against reaching out to people that he should be seeing as potential members of his flock. And his party.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Tiger Lady

Here is a Wall Street Journal interview with Princeton's President Shirley Tilghman. And as a Princeton alum, there's plenty in the interview that makes me uncomfortable with the University's leader.

Responding to the criticism that she's practiced gender-based affirmative action, Tilghman says,

Implied by such a criticism is an underlying assumption that there aren't talented women out there who would be extremely effective leaders in a university like Princeton. And given that 50% of our students are women, I would have thought this view would have disappeared from Princeton many, many years ago.

That's hardly what the criticism implies. What it implies is that the President of Princeton thinks she has to take special note of gender in making high level appointments. That would seem to mean one of two things: That women can't get the jobs without special consideration, OR that sexism is so ubiquitous everywhere else that it's the reason her choices of women for high level positions looks so unusual. Neither is a healthy message for young women students.

Note also that she has no problem continuing to charge students for full tuition, even though it could be provided free. Why? Because they (or, more properly, their parents) can afford it. Sounds a little "from each according to their ability," doesn't it?

Finally, it's amazing that Shirley Tilghman thinks that because no student has complained to her about liberal bias on campus, it can't be happening. Please. Just from what I read about her in Princeton Alumni Weekly and in interviews like this one, I'd know -- as a student -- that it would probably be at best useless to talk to her about political bias, at worst, potentially risky.

After all, Tilghman wasn't afraid to go after Lawrence Summers when he offended her notions of what's politically correct. Why, exactly, would a lowly conservative student have a chance for a fair hearing from her?

Update: The Manhattan Institute's brilliant Heather McDonald has commented on the article, as well, over at Powerline. (Thanks to emailer Dan for the heads up).

The UN: Life in a Glass House

If anyone ever wondered why many Americans have such disdain for the UN, it need only look at stories like this one -- "UN Human Rights Experts Chastise U.S."

Ready for the first one?

Member Hipolito Solari Yrigoyen, an Argentine lawyer and human rights activist, said he worried about U.S. efforts to deal with illegal migrants from Mexico.

Hundreds of National Guard troops have been deployed along the border in an effort to stop illegal immigration.

"My major concern ... is the level of militarization on the border with Mexico," he said. "Militarization of the border creates a conflict zone."

So the problem is that the US is trying to control its borders -- a key indicia of sovereignty. Doing so with force (on the US' part) is verboten, even though this story from last Thursday concerns Mexicans firing on the US, not the other way around (and it's hardly the first time). The critical Argentine lawyer might be better advised to worry about the plight of illegals in Argentina -- a much uglier proposition than illegals face here -- or, perhaps, Mexico's treatment of illegals. Suffice it to say there's no free emergency room health care or education there.

Here's more of the same:

Panel member Sir Nigel Rodley, a British law professor, criticized the alleged U.S. practice of holding detainees in the war on terror incommunicado for long periods.

Abdelfattah Amor, a senior Tunisian law professor, noted allegations of prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the U.S. detention center for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A British law professor doesn't approve of the way America is treating enemy combatants? No doubt a lot of the people whom he believes shouldn't be incommunicado would love to plan another 7/7. But it's always easier to toss brickbats at the U.S. than to take a tough line with the people who want to kill you . . .

As for the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, when anyone in the US military is convicted of wrongdoing, they're punished -- as were the soldiers charged with wrongful conduct at Abu Ghraib. It's a habit that the UN should learn to emulate. And perhaps the Tunisian lawyer should find a worthier subject for his concern, because Guantanamo has been found to have better accommodations than Belgian prisons, which may explain the Guantanamo 13. By the way, as the Tunisian law professor should be aware, the U.S. government only locks up suspected killers, not people who simply exercise free speech rights (luckily for him, not so lucky for one of his fellow countrymen).

Finally, there's this gem:

Other questions from the panel concerned racial discrimination, the rights of native Americans and the treatment of African-Americans in the Gulf Coast area before and after Hurricane Katrina.

Name me another country that has spent as much time and money to try to rectify racial injustices, whether through affirmative action or a host of other measures. Name me another country with as much color-blind opportunity as the United States.

This kind of busy-body moral obtuseness is the reason that no one takes the United Nations seriously when it talks about "human rights." It's worried about enemy combatants at Guantanamo and the victims of Katrina (who are receving $10 billion in direct government aid) when women in China are being forced to have abortions (and those who expose the violent, ugly system are dragged into court) -- and oh, yes, while there are credible charges outstanding that the UN's own "peacekeepers" have sexually exploited of women and girls in Liberia, the Congo, Kosovo and Bosnia.

How typical.

Plaming Out

Christopher Hitchens lays out, chapter and verse, why no reasonable person can continue to believe that a Bush partisan "leaked" Valerie Plame's name.

Just another reason the Wilson/Plames are either dumb or delusional to try to prolong their 15 minutes of fame with a meritless lawsuit.

More "Solution-oriented" News?

Talking to TV critics in Pasadena on Sunday, Katie Couric reported on some of the results of "town meetings" she's been holding with television viewers across the country (the 2006 version of Hillary Clinton's "listening tour," presumably).

We heard from many people the news is just too depressing. Obviously, we can't sugar-coat what's going on, but there are cases where we can be more solution-oriented.

The last sentence, in particular, should catch everyone's eye -- because what it's actually doing is reshaping the mission of the news. I'm not interested in hearing CBS' "solutions" to national or world problems; that's what politicians, think tanks and advocacy groups are for. When I turn on the news, I want to learn what's going on. It may not be as glamorous (or as easy) as coming up with "solutions" -- which requires a lot less shoe leather and a lot more interviewing of those who share the anchor's political agenda -- but it's a valuable task, when done correctly. And it's not done well enough on the networks these days.

Likewise, it seems to me that when people characterize the news as too "depressing," they're not calling for CBS to morph into a policy shop. What they're saying, in effect, is this: Of course, we have to know if any American soldiers commit crimes in Iraq. But would it really kill you to do a story on some of the good our soldiers are doing, too -- something about the toy drives for children, the animal rescuing, the plastic surgery for innocent victims of violence that our soldiers have spearheaded? Something is wrong when Americans have to read People magazine to find some positive news from Iraq, where's there's plenty to tell, if any network were so inclined.

Rather than finding "solutions," CBS News would be better advised to try balancing the news, and telling some of the stories that, right now, are being shamefully overlooked.

Blunt Talk

In remarks that were unexpectedly picked up by a microphone, President Bush hit the nail on the head, bluntly noting that, for the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict to stop, all that needs to happen is for a country with some influence with Syria (hello, France?) to instruct it to tell its buddy Hezbollah to knock it off. (In doing so, he used some "colorful language" that has some reporters all atwitter for some inexplicable reason).

The fact is that President Bush was right. Everyone knows what needs to happen for the conflict to cease. The problem is that the UN is impotent and, it seems, many of the other countries find it easier to simply condemn Israel than to take any constructive steps actually to stop the violence.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Remembering the Reagan Revolution -- Correctly

Fred Barnes provides an invaluable service -- recalling the real Ronald Reagan, not the ersatz version used by the liberals who despised him as a weapon for bludgeoning President Bush.

It's funny -- now, liberals embrace President Reagan with fervor, but in his time, he was almost as hated by the left as President Bush now is.

Recently, a friend asked me what I thought would happen if, indeed, the U.S. did succeed in Iraq . . . what would the liberals do then? And the answer is clear: They'll do what they did with President Reagan and the Cold War -- that is, pretend they were on board the whole time.

They weren't. They hated Ronald Reagan, and they hated what he did to win the Cold War, until, in fact, it was all over. That's why they have so little credibility when it comes to the second great struggle of our lifetimes.

An Instructive Peek Inside the Leftist Mind

Almost unbelievably, leftists in Israel are rallying against the military strikes, and calling for negotiations with Hezbollah and Hamas.

It really is telling -- their country is being attacked by deadly enemies and the ansewr is to try to talk to the same people who have completely disregarded Israel's good faith in withdrawing from both Gaza and the buffer zone in Lebanon.

The leftist mind seems to be the same across the world . . . there's nothing worth fighting for, ever. Indeed, if Israeli leftists can't agree that fighting is warrnated now, when would it ever be?

Rudy for Real?

This piece offers a solid analysis of how and why Rudy Giuliani could win the Republican nomination. In particular, the advice about abortion echoes what I have said here.

However, there's one elephant in the room that the author isn't acknowledging. That's Giuliani's somewhat unsavory past marital life, and it, too, may be a real stumbling block for a lot of conservatives. Mr. Giuliani needs to find a way to signal that he regrets what is past, and has committed himself to living a new life in a new way -- not an easy task, but an important one. Without explicitly addressing the situation, there's the danger that he comes off as someone who was dating one woman (openly, and when he was in the public eye) while married to another. And that's going to be unacceptable to many, many conservatives if it goes unaddressed.

"Only in Our Own Minds"

Newt Gingrich appeared on "Meet the Press" with Joe Biden (hardly a fair fight). Although they've agreed on some things (e.g. Israel has a right to defend itself), it's amazing how cramped Biden's vision of foreign policy is, versus Gingrich's. Gingrich -- rightly -- understands the importance of projecting American might around the world. Biden actually announced that the United States wasn't capable of doing much anywhere else in the world because our military commitment in Iraq.

Tim Russert asked Newt Gingrich whether our hands were tied because of Iraq, and he answered, "Only in our own minds." And that's the nub of many of the problems that the Bush Administration is facing in foreign policy terms. We're no doubt capable of doing more in many places, but numerous Democrats (and some Republicans) have seized on the difficulties in Iraq as an excuse to oppose any strong action anywhere else -- which leads to problems when Kim Jong Il, Ahmadinejad and Assad interpret our reticence as either a lack of ability or a lack of will.

Gingrich likewise made the point that if we're not sure about what, for example, North Korea has (in terms of a nuclear weapon), we need to err on the side of being strong. In contrast, Biden favors one-on-one talks with Kim Jong Il (which makes him look strong).

That's why I vote Republican.

What's more, Gingrich hasn't flinched from analogizing the current situation in the Middle East to the beginning of another world war -- ugly, but true. As he pointed out, dangerous regimes across the world are allied, from the statue of a Venezualan leftist being unveiled in Iran, to the contacts between Iran and North Korea, to today's story about Iran standing in solidarity with Syria.

Biden, of course, resisted the analogy.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Israel's Goals

Russian President Putin has opined that Israel is pursuing larger goals than simply the return of its two kidnapped soldiers.

And he's absolutely right. Here's why: Technologically advanced weaponry has been deployed against Israel, in particular the UAV carrying an Iranian missile that succeeded in hitting an Israeli ship.

And the use of such technologically advanced weaponry has only increased the urgency on the Israeli side to eradicate as many of the terrorists and weapons lined up against them as they possibly can. What's happened has become a frightening example of how ugly things could become for Israel if Hezbollah or Hamas ever gained the technological means and know-how to launch highly effective and damaging remote strikes. Better to take them out before that can happen.

So, yes, they're doing more than simply fighting for the return of their two soldiers. They're seeking to defeat Hezbollah while they still can now without incurring unspeakable costs later. And they're right to do so.

Why the Conflict Matters

Bill Kristol articulates it perfectly:

What's happening in the Middle East, then, isn't just another chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. What's happening is an Islamist-Israeli war. You might even say this is part of the Islamist war on the West--but is India part of the West? Better to say that what's under attack is liberal democratic civilization, whose leading representative right now happens to be the United States.

"Woman Friendly" Radio?

Gloria Steinem is arguing that there's not enough of it -- that talk radio is too full of "verbal prize fights" and sports.

Offensive Ad Pulled

Democrats have pulled the offensive, inappropriate ad featuring flag draped military coffins.

Good choice.

A Spreading Conflict?

Israel says that Iran was involved in firing a Hezbollah missile that damaged an Israeli warship. It's worth noting that the missiles being fired at Israel are reportedly Iranian made. Sources in the linked story likewise say that about 100 Iranian soldiers are actively assisting Hezbollah.

This, of course, at least opens the possibility that the conflict could, quite possibly, spread over to Iran.

It also seems that Israel has delivered an ultimatum to Syria.

Happily, President Bush has laid the blame for the conflict where it belongs -- at the feet of Syria and Hezbollah. What will be interesting to see is whether Iran will likewise be fingered, if and when it becomes crystal clear that it's playing a role in the conflict, and what our response (if any) will be.

It's hard to imagine that Iran would act openly to assist Hezbollah if it hadn't been emboldened by the domestic response (on the left) to the war in Iraq, and to the perception, assiduously spread by the MSM, that things are going poorly there. But the feckless, impotent UN (which has, as Robert Satloff reports here) allowed Iran to develop nukes without any meaningful sanction, bears an even bigger share of the blame.

How ironic it will be if all the "peaceniks" in the US and in the UN are responsible for a bigger Middle East conflagration -- having encouraged the Iranians to escalate the conflict by sending the signal that the US has no stomach for battle, and the UN no will to stop wrong-doers.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fight to the Finish?

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert says Israel won't stop fighting until Hezbollah is disarmed. Good for him -- it's about time.

In any case, it's also good for the U.S. Not only is Hezbollah defeated, but Iran, too would be put in its place -- or, perhaps, more, if the Israelis really decided to do this thing up right and take out their nukes.

The fact is that Israel could afford to play push-push back with its enemies while they were still technologically unadvanced. But Israeli defense expert Yoni reports that Hezbollah has weapons capable of reaching way into Israel, and that's somethign the Israelis simply can't tolerate.